Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Experiment 3

My latest experiment with soluble fabric stabiliser. This is the best yet -- although it is still stitched by hand. (I scanned this piece rather than photographing it so the colours are a bit washed out -- it's actually bright blue!)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Experiment 2

Here's my second experiment with the soluble fabric stabiliser. This was going to be the back of the fabric but I like it better than the "front".

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Warning: R-rated rant

I apologise in advance if the following diatribe about female body hair offends you and suggest that you skip reading my blog today if you are not interested in hearing my views on Brazilian waxing.

With regard to depillation, although I don't live in a glass house I certainly have some extremely large picture windows that make me feel very vulnerable in throwing stones at pubic waxing. I pluck my eyebrows, remove stray hairs on my chin and neck and shave my legs (reasonably) regularly. I also tidy up my bikini line when socially necessary (that is, before going to the beach or a public swimming pool). Some would claim that I am almost all the way along the line that eventually leads to a Brazillian; nevertheless, I take up my stones and begin pitching.

The reason I want to draw a line in the sand (or should I say, wax a line in the pubic hair) and question the idea of a Brazilian wax is that it seems to me that the primary purpose and result of the process is to make a woman look more like a little girl. This horrifies me, with its overtones of infantilisation and undertones of pedophilia. It horrifies me that so many women are prepared to go down this path without thinking about the messages they are sending to their lovers, friends and daughters.

Some of the reasons I have heard women give for having a Brazilian are that "it's cleaner" and "it increases the pleasurable sensations for me and my lover". To both of these excuses I reply: B*%!.S#!*. If you really thought being hairless was next to godliness, you'd shave your head as well. And I fail to see how hair inhibits sensation: in fact, if you ask me, there's more sensation to be felt with hair -- the stirring of the strands by your lover's breath, for instance.

Probably the most disturbing thing about the rise in popularity and acceptance of the Brazilian is that it is becoming the norm. Those starving size 8 darlings in fashion mags seem to have no body hair at all (of course, Photoshop has a lot to answer for here too). And take a look at pornography, if you dare: women with pubic hair is now a "fetish" category along with B&D, nuns, schoolgirls and MILFs. In other words, there is a false perception being created in society that women will be hairless, everywhere, placing yet another demand on women to make their bodies conform to an unnatural ideal.

There is some hope. One friend of mine had a Brazilian as a reaction to the discovery of grey pubic hairs; when she showed her husband the result, his response was, "What did you do that for?" Gotta love a man who's not afraid to love a woman -- a real, hairy woman.

For myself (and the Fun Policeman), I'm proudly maintaining my lush undergrowth.

Hat tip to the Daily Troll and Fluffy Dollars.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Girt by sea

Our State Premier, Morris Dilemma, thinks that he can solve all our Cronulla-based race-hate problems and wipe out terrorism by requiring the kiddies to sing the national anthem once a week at school assemblies.

I do love a good national anthem -- the Star Spangled Banner and Aotearoa/God Defend New Zealand are among my faves, along with good ol' Girt. I also am one of several Australian citizens (including the aforementioned State Premier) who actually know the words of the second verse (I even know the words of the disgraced and discarded verses: "When gallant Cook from Albion sailed...").

But I can't help thinking that poor old Morris is just taking a stab in the dark here. I mean, singing gospel music doesn't get you into heaven, and mumbling "Australians all eat sausages, for breakfast, lunch and tea" to a stodgy old tune is not going to magically turn primary school students into multiculturalists.

The only saving grace will be if the kiddies are allowed to belt out the anthem to its alternate tune: Barnesy's Working Class Man. (Go on, try it. It works.)

All together now:
Woah-oh-oh-oh Advance Australia Fair!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Crafty Dude

The Dude took a piece of cardstock from my craft supplies and spent a couple of quiet hours working away at this creation. It's a 3D representation of me sitting on my ergonomic kneeling chair, with my laptop on my worktable, surrounded by my books and other paraphernalia. He hasn't bothered to capture the messy state of the top of my worktable -- papers, bills, two telephones, beads, stapler, paperclips, tins of pens, pictures cut or torn out of newspapers and magazines, a copy of Wuthering Heights, hand cream, ribbons, letters, a key ring, the smoke alarm (needs a new battery) -- but at that scale (the whole thing is about 10cm high) it would have been quite a challenge.

Anyway, I love you too, Dude.

The Fun Police received a similar card, depicting him swinging by his hands in the doorway of the fire station. I'm not sure what the Dude thinks his dad does all day....

Help! Caffeine withdrawal imminent!

Here's my old faithful coffee grinder. This little baby was already old when we found it in the kitchen of the house my parents bought when I was four years old. But now I think it has had the rhubarb... it just doesn't grind the beans any more.

I've been looking on ebay for a new one, but I've got a dilemma: should I go for another manual grinder, or a new-fangled electric one? I've heard that the electric ones aren't very efficient and, personally, I'm not a big fan of electrical kitchen appliances anyway (just another machine to find a spot for in the cupboard). On the other hand, grinding coffee beans by hand every morning is hard (though rewarding) work. And the Fun Policeman always teases me about it being "mother's little helper" when I hold it between my knees to stabilise it (the joke will be apparent to fans of Australian Crawl*).

Any help with the pros and cons of coffee grinders would be appreciated, either in the comments here or by email. And now back to ebay...

* The Boys Light Up

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Fun Police

Not being accustomed to hard work, the junior members of the household didn't take too kindly to the Voice of Reason whipping them into a cleaning frenzy in preparation for the Dude's birthday party last week.

So they created a new job description and identification badge for the VoR: he is now known as the Fun Police.

(Later in the day, I confess, I also earned myself a badge and title: the Lounge Cover Nazi. Don't sit there! Don't put your feet on the lounge!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Look, Alli -- how your baby is growing!
Cycads are amazing plants. This one, that came from my sister's garden when she moved to America three-and-a-half years ago, has just sprouted four new leaves. No big deal for an angiosperm, but this cycad just doubled its complement of branches in one hot, wet week.
What intrigues me about my cycad is that it doesn't grow. When Alli gave it to me, it had two 15cm leaves growing from the bulb-like central "stem". Those two leaves continued to exist for a year and a half, without growing or changing in any way. Suddenly, after a hot, wet week that summer, the cycad sprouted two more leaves. These ones quickly expanded to their full size of about 45cm, then the plant stayed just as it was for another two years, not growing or changing. This week there are four new leaves that look as though they are going to be about the same size as the second pair.
It's as though the little cycad saves up energy in its core, waiting and waiting for just the right moment, then it explodes with new growth, before settling back into dormancy for another couple of years. This is a plant for a patient gardener.

Their smooth dark flames flicker at time's own root,
Round them the rising forests of the years
alter the climates of forgotten earth
and silt with leaves the strata of first birth.

Only the antique cycads sullenly
keep the old bargain life has long since broken;
and, cursed by age, through each chill century
they watch the shrunken moon, but never die,

for time forgets the promise he once made,
and change forgets that they are left alone.
Among the complicated birds and flowers
they seem a generation carved in stone.

Leaning together, down those gulfs they stare
over whose darkness dance the brilliant birds
that cry in air one moment, and are gone;
and with their countless suns the years spin on.

Take their cold seed and set it in the mind,
and its slow root will lengthen deep and deep
till, following, you cling on the last ledge
over the unthinkable, unfathomable edge
beyond which man remembers only sleep.

[Judith Wright, "The Cycads"]

Friday, January 13, 2006


Here is my first attempt at using RinsAWay, similar to Solvy. The idea is that you place fibres, scraps of fabric and other objects on the soluble plastic, cover it with another layer of plastic to keep it all in place, then stitch through all the layers to create a kind of fabric. As in the photographs here.

1. The soluble plastic comes on a roll -- you just cut off as much as you need.

2. Next you place the fibres that you want to turn into fabric on the plastic sheet, then cover it with another layer of the plastic. These fibres are the ends of threads I used in my Moon Rock embroidery. I saved them all in a zip-lock bag as I was stitching.

3. Place the sandwich of soluble plastic and fibres in an embroidery hoop to hold it firm.

4. Most people machine stitch through the layers, using a free-hand motion. My ancient sewing machine doesn't have the required darning foot attachment and the tension is a bit suspect, so I chose to hand stitch in a spiral pattern. It was more time consuming, but fun. Next time, I might try a more intricate pattern, more decroative thread and smaller stitches. Or find someone who has a better sewing machine I can borrow.

5. Lastly, I ran the assembly under cold water and dissolved the plastic layers. The resulting lacy mesh is pretty, but quite fragile. It also required several rinses to fully remove the soluble plastic residue, which got all over my hands and the sink. Eewww.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Going the tonk

Last night we sprawled limply under the ceiling fan in the living room and watched Marto and Roy going the tonk at the Gabba*. I have no idea of the etymology of that phrase -- going the tonk -- but I have decided that it is my favourite phrase of the summer.

The Voice of Reason thinks that "tonk" is the sound of leather against willow, while I contend that it is a close approximation of the sound of a ball hitting the corrugated-iron roof of the Members' Stand at the SCG. The Dude just likes to say "tonk" over and over again, because it sounds so onomatopoeic.

Anyway, it got me thinking about going the tonk myself. Here's a short list of things I'd like to go the tonk on this summer:

Peter Costello
My next-door neighbour's radio at 2am
John Howard and his son, Richard "I met Senator John McCain"
The Unlocking the Mystery of Life DVD
Cockroaches (that reminds me, I have to book the pest guy)

* Translation for non-Aussies: "We watched Damian Martyn and Andrew Symonds, two of Australia's top cricketers, hitting a cricket ball into the stands for six runs at the Woolloongabba sports venue in Brisbane."

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Now I've done it...

At Linda's suggestion, I've created a flickr group for the science and nature embroidery. I prowled around some other flickr accounts and found a few more images for it, then emailed the owners of those images to ask them to join the group. I hope the word will spread and there will be an interesting response.

Fingers crossed.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Science-based stitchery

Check out kaysusan's yeast embroidery over at Smockery.

Kay's response to my Moon Rock embroidery (see my earlier series of posts), made me wonder if there are others out there who have attempted embroidery inspired by scientific images, from the microscopic to the macroscopic. When I recently visited the National Museum of Australia in Canberra I was enthralled by the six-metre long tapestry depicting the Milky Way (here's just a section):

I am not only thinking of abstract images but also of naturalistic images such as birds, butterflies and frogs (Maureen 3 stitched a beautiful frog on a bullrush for a Round Robin I was in a couple of years ago, for example -- I think it was the dragonfly one, but I can't remember whose block it ended up on).

Anyway, I thought it might be fun to get together a gallery of science and nature embroidery. The only criteria would be that the main subject of the embroidery should be of a scientific or naturalistic nature. If you've got something you could share, pop a comment on this post. You could either include a link to the image on your blog or, if you don't have your own blog, just let me know that you've got an image and I'll contact you by email and post the picture here. Any takers?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

What kids know about science

A post on the Tangled Bank blog carnival had me in stitches: What your kids know about science. You'll laugh out loud.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Dragonfly eye candy

Summer, and dragonflies...

Sharon has posted a gorgeous photograph of a winged visitor to her Canberra garden at in a minute ago.

And Linda has completed a beauteous crazy quilt wallhanging which, I am proud to say, I had a small hand in (my contribution was the almost invisible silver dragonfly towards the top of the centre block). Check it out at Chloe's Place.